IAIA to Build Center for Lifelong Learning

May 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-4: International Indigenous Education, Tribal College News

Instead of legal pads and pens, the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) handed out sketch pads and colored pencil sets to participants in a convocation at the tribal college in Santa Fe, NM, last January 2005. More than 60 artists, alumni, faculty, and other community members gathered to contribute their dreams and images for a lifelong learning center.

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has built 15 lifelong learning centers around the world, but the Achein will be the first to serve American Indians and other indigenous people around the world. Achein is a word in Keres, the language of seven of the Indian pueblos, which signifies a place where knowledge is shared in a spiritual context. Kellogg gave IAIA a $2 million planning grant for the center.

IAIA and most other tribal colleges have always contributed to their communities’ lifelong learning by providing seminars, workshops, and community forums. However, such programs usually serve one-time needs, not an overall vision, and the tribal colleges often much reach deep into their pockets since the lifelong learning often doesn’t fit under the criteria for the federal government’s core institutional funding or grant programs.

In February 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded a $750,000 challenge grant to IAIA for the center. The grant must be matched by IAIA with nonfederal funds on a 3 to 1 basis.

Seven years of planning and visioning have gone into the IAIA center, which is expected to break ground next fall. As a result of a previous community visioning meeting, the center was moved closer to other IAIA buildings so it will be an integral, seamless part of the campus, according to the architect, Paul Fragua (Jemez Pueblo).

Programming will include creative tribal governance and economic development, health care, education, the arts and cultural development, Native research, and cultural studies.

The concept of the Achein Center has been shared with indigenous people, tribes, and organizations throughout the world. Representatives of New Zealand’s indigenous education movement attended an initial planning meeting in summer 2001. Leaders from Siberia’s tribal communities visited IAIA in 2001, and one member of that group agreed to serve on the center’s advisory committee. So far, 19 Native leaders from 14 tribes have agreed to serve on the advisory committee.

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